Richard Artschwager - Contemporary Art Part I New York Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Franck + Schulte, Berlin

  • Catalogue Essay

    Richard Artschwager’s oeuvre is greatly influenced by his years as a commercial furniture maker, building and designing mass quantities of furniture which were simple and modern in design. During these years in the early 1950s, Artschwager put aside his desire of creating high-art for the security of a steady job. Nevertheless, his rooted passion did not cease and he continued to visit galleries and meet fellow artists who inspired him. It was in October of 1960, after seeing Mark di Suervo’s first sculpture exhibition at Green Gallery, an exhibition of works assembled from ordinary objects and urban detritus, that Artschwager found inspiration for his own art making process relevant with his ability as a craftsman. (R. Armstrong, Artschwager, Richard, New York/London, 1988, p. 22).

    Using the least noble material of the time, formica, the artist began expressing his concept of representation between fact and image: “It was formica which touched it off. Formica, the great ugly material, the horror of the age, which I came to like suddenly because I was sick of looking at all of this beautiful wood…So I got hold of a scrap of formica – something called bleached walnut. It worked differently because it looked as if wood had passed through it, as if the thing had half existed. It was all black and white. There was no color at all, and it was very hard and shiny, so that was a picture of wood. If you take that and make something of it, then you have an object. But it’s a picture of something at the same time, it’s an object,” (Richard Artschwager quoted in ibid, p. 23).

    Combining this innovative idea of three degrees of representation (the image of a representation of an object), he started to play with the notion of space. Breaking free of the primary function tables and chairs hold in everyday life, Artschwager expressed their beauty and form in another context. Questioning the traditional placement of these objects and how we view them, he splayed the legs, broke down the surfaces and presented them in the corners of walls – where the wall meets the ceiling or where two corners meet together. Not only did he overcome the limited reality of function and three-dimensional space, he bridged two worlds together: utilitarian design and purely aesthetic through painting and sculpture at once.


Splatter Chair IV

Formica and acrylic on wood and metal in two parts.
59 x 52 in. (149.9 x 132.1 cm).
Signed and dated “Richard Artschwager ‘94” on the reverse of both parts.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $156,000

Contemporary Art Part I

17 May 2007
7pm New York